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Seasonal Fluctuations

Started by Mojo, August 03, 2017, 11:57:28 am

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August 03, 2017, 11:57:28 am Last Edit: August 03, 2017, 11:58:05 am by Mojo
I was just wondering if you furniture guys see a fluctuation in business like we do. I know Marine folks have slow periods in the winter time when people put their boat away. But what about you furniture people ?

Since we started this company we have always seen a weird drop in sales during July and August. In some ways it is a blessing as we spend that slow time in the summer taking a vacation, going through our machines and performing maintenance, and essentially catching our breath. By the time July rolls around we are both so burnt out after getting pounded with orders throughout the winter and spring months. We run 6 and sometimes 7 days a week to keep up so the break is much needed.

My wife and I just went over our budget and we need $ 10 K to open the doors every month at the shop. This includes rent, payroll, utilities, restocking inventory, etc. What we do ( and I learned the hard way years ago ) is keep a cash reserve we can draw off if we have to during the summer months when things get slow.

In a production setting downturns always happen for many different industries. We are working on coming out with a new line of products to sell that will hopefully stabilize our summer production schedule. I have tried for years to flatten our production cycles with sales, etc. and nothing works. Our customer base has a distinct pattern they all seem to follow and not much will move them from it. In a nutshell their summers are filled with all kinds of activities and travel while their winter months are spent lounging around in sunny destinations. In other words they have a lot of free time to kill and catch up on coach maintenance.

I find these sales cycles a PITA. I have yet to be able to get a handle on smoothing out production instead of these rollercoaster rides we take. I talked with RiCat the other day and he is booked out till ( I think he said ) October. He has been slammed with boats and cars and that is amazing considering we are located in Florida, home of the snowbirds.

Do the rest of you fight these cycles ?

Our other company has not seen these cycles yet. We manufacture custom made stainless and plastic parts for coaches that are more structural in nature. People can put off buying awnings for a while but when structural issues arise, they need to get on it right away. A lot of the time the problem is so serious they have to have it fixed right away so they order our parts. That must be the reason why our manufacturing company sees steady sales with no dips.



Here in Florida the snowbird season seems to me to be the slow time of year. We are slammed from now until October , November. During the winter months after we catch up is just drops off for a couple of months. We slid by last year with no real downtime but the slowness caught up with us and hurt a little in the cash flow area. But we made it. I guess most service business is like this. Slow times, swamped times. In the north I would be booked for Christmas in September. Down here is it the opposite.
Minichillo's Upholstery


I would agree if there was an average taken - july + aug - is suspect.  My customers are fixing it because it's broken or redoing it for cosmetics.
The fixing part never slows down for me.  The other day 6 chairs came in - seats and backs - wrap around w/piping on the OS back and under the seat rail.  Vintage chairs - They had been upl two times before without removing the older material.  By the time I finished pulling all the  staples and tacks my right hand was shot and I needed a day away from the shop which was nice for aug.  


August 03, 2017, 01:37:53 pm #3 Last Edit: August 03, 2017, 06:27:09 pm by kodydog
Our busiest time is the holidays Starting mid October. I think this has to do with the way Rose sells the job, If you want it by Christmas you need to get your fabric and be put on our schedule. I think this gets the client thinking, yeah it would be nice to get my sofa back by Christmas. The phone stops ringing in January but we usually have a big enough over flow to keep us busy through February. March is the month that makes me nervous. By April it starts to pick back up again.
There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.


Since I work alone, I always have a backlog. So I seldom even notice whether I'm experiencing slack time or peak time.
"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban


I stopped into our neighbors golf kart business yesterday. Was talking with him and he said this is the slowest summer he has had since he has been in business ( years ). He said he has never cut employee hours before but just had to last month and this month.

I have yet to get a handle on consumer sediment towards the economy. I was thinking that some are holding back on large purchases but then a number of customers call and place massive orders for full fabric change outs. I am to the point where I am giving up trying to figure out what consumers are thinking.

Just bring me your money and orders.

I think Paul and RiCat have noticed that every spring when the snowbirds go home our town gets a lot less busy. Traffic is lighter, there are no waits at restaurants and some stores seem empty. Typically by March I am ready for them to leave town. Some of these blue hairs scare the hell out of me with their driving, you cannot get a seat at a restaurant without waiting 15 or 20 minutes and when your in a store your getting mowed down by some granny with a grocery cart.




My situation is some what similar to Dennis, always have work due to my diversification - plus fewer shops existing all the time.

Like yesterday, did upholstery work on a sectional and a chaise, then ended the day on
getting involved with a pontoon cover (sewing/snaps/reinforcements)  Then, tomorrow, there is furniture wood framing needing repairs, on the table.

Diversification is probably the best answer.